Oil prices have risen for the sixth consecutive day in Asia, rising past US$79 a barrel, but briefly traded lower after an American Petroleum Institute report of an increase in US inventory levels by 1.725 mln barrels last week. Despite an unexpected rise in weekly US crude inventories against market expectations of a drop of 2 mln barrels, benchmark crude for February delivery inched up to US$79.06 a barrel on the Nymex. In London, Brent crude for February delivery rose to US$77.9 on the ICE Futures exchange. Oil prices are expected to hold until dtata is released by the Energy Information Administration. If EIA report shows a drop in stockpiles, prices will move up but there will be strong resistance at $80 a barrel, while they will slide down if the EIA data show a build up in inventories. The market is expecting a drop in inventories because of higher demand for heating fuel during the northern hemisphere's winter and a rebound in the US economy.